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A member asked:

my 79 yr. old mom has been having dizzy spells with her left thumb turning cold and purple.she has has ct and been checked up an my mom has been checked out through various scans but nothing comes up neg.

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Herbert Krob
Neurology 29 years experience
A : A cold, purple digit (finger, thumb, or toe) often indicates a problem with blood supply. Blood vessels can be affected by a lot of things, including inflammatory and rheumatologic conditions (such as vasculitis or raynaud's syndrome), or degenerative changes, such as atherosclerosis. It is difficult to relate many of these causes to other things that cause dizziness, but when an upper limb is involved, one's mind tends to consider a condition such as subclavian steal syndrome. Disorders suspicious for blood vessel involvement can often be checked by ultrasound, which is a (fairly) inexpensive and (fairly) comfortable test. Dizziness in older people is a dangerous symptom, because it can often lead to falls. Complications resulting from falls are the leading cause of death from injury in those older than age 65, and the fifth leading cause of death in older adults. Dizziness and falls in older people have a large number of causes, many of which aren't easily fixed. But, there is very good medical evidence that physical therapy (pt) involving exercise (gait, balance, strength, flexibility, movement, general physical activity, and endurance) reduce the rate of falls and the risk of falling. It is important to get these issues checked out. A good first step would be a primary care (internal medicine or family practice) doctor, who could help to determine whether the problem needs consultation by a rheumatologist, neurologist, or vascular surgeon, and who can arrange physical therapy consultation to reduce the risk of falls.

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Last updated Oct 3, 2016

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